Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Government Doesn't Have to Reveal Why it Thinks it Can Kill You

The Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, claims to have the legal right to kill anybody it wants to, without either a warrant or a trial. It also claims to have a legal  opinion from the White House Counsel explaining how this seemingly bizarre claim is justifiable under current law. The New York Times sued,  not over the right to extrajudicial assassination that the President claims, but over his refusal to release the legal opinion that he says justifies those assassinations.

Now a judge has ruled on the case, and she finds that the President does indeed have the right to keep this legal advice secret. But we can't even read the whole opinion, because part of it is based on secret information provided to the judge in camera and therefore that part of the opinion is also secret. So not only can we not find out on what basis the President says he can kill anybody he wants to kill, we can't even read the whole opinion by which a judge decided that we can't read it.

Judge McMahon:
The Alice in Wonderland nature of this pronouncement is not lost on me. But after careful and extensive consideration, I find myself stuck in a paradoxical situation in which I cannot solve a problem because of contradictory constraints and rules -- a veritable Catch-22. I can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the Executive Branch of our government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws, while keeping the reasons for their conclusions a secret.
This is crazy. Why don't some of those nuts who protest the slightest limit on their right to own guns get upset about these real violations of our Constitution and our rights?

No comments: